Enjoy stunning views as you climb Mt. Tsurugi and take on the challenge of crossing historic vine bridges; Iya Valley on Shikoku is a great place for family adventures!
Day 3 was filled with hiking Mount Tsurugi, a chairlift ride and the beautiful Dogama waterfall!
The only thing we had planned for this trip was our Sunday night stay in Ochiai. Our light itinerary was quickly filled thanks to the recommendations from Tyler, of awadrone.com, who we met at Forest Adventure. He has been living and working on Shikoku and was able to tell us a lot of the off-the-beaten-path things to do and eat.
For lunch we went to a highly recommend restaurant, Indora, that was supposed to have some amazing curry! Matt was not disappointed – the curry was rich and full of delicious onions, and the ambiance was that of a fun hole-in-the-wall place.
The waitress was so sweet! While we waited for our food, she brought out some origami spinning tops for the kids to play with. When we left we didn’t bring them with us, but she ran out to our car telling us we forgot them! I went back inside with her and she filled a bag full of origami for the kids.
The road was incredibly tight and curvy as we drove deeper into the awe-inspiring Iya Valley. We stopped at Dogama, a beautiful waterfall that travels through large, stone bowls. The water is the characteristic blue-green of the area, and draws you in with its alluring color and smooth flow. There are places to sit and enjoy the sound of the rushing water. We would have had a little picnic but the kids had fallen asleep in the car.
We had already seen the the other vine bridge, Iya Kazurabashi, but thought it worth the stop to see the other bridges, too – there are only three in Japan! The difference between Iya Kazurabashi and Oku-Iya Kazurabashi, other than the size, is at Oku-Iya you can cross the bridge as many times as you would like, and it doesn’t matter which way you go. Iya Kazurabashi you pay ¥550 and cross it one way, one time.
Oku-Iya has two bridges. The Husband Bridge (Otto no Hashi) and the Wife Bridge (Tsuma no Hashi). The Husband Bridge is higher and longer, and the Wife Bridge is 22 meters to cross the river. These bridges also cost ¥550 (not per bridge) and are redone every three years. They are made up of vines, boards and steel cables.
We had previously not let the kids cross the Iya Kazurabashi. It was wet and slippery with large gaps between the boards! However they wanted to walk across it this time. I didn’t want to say, “No, it’s too scary.” They were both very brave and wanted to do something hard, so we let them! Of course, we held on very tightly to their hands, but they both walked across the bridge and we couldn’t be prouder!
At this location there was also a Wild Monkey Bridge. What is a Wild Monkey Bridge? It is a wooden crate suspended from cables that goes across the river. They were used to ferry cargo across the river in times past. Now, you can climb in and pull yourself back and forth across the river using a rope! I felt like it was much harder than it looked!
Speaking of doing hard things, Royce hiked up Mount Tsurugi! Yes, we took the chairlift to the halfway point, but there was quite a bit of hike still and he climbed the whole thing by himself. He is three! I was seriously struggling. Jeannie was on my back and I definitely felt how much heavier she is getting – it was a good reminder to work out more! But just like the kids can do hard things, I can too!
At the bottom of Tsurugi we could see that the clouds were starting to roll in. There was a typhoon that was supposed to hit later in the afternoon, and the wind was starting to gust ahead of the storm.We knew we needed to hurry to beat the storm so we went straight for the chairlift and didn’t stop at the museum or restaurant. A two way ticket costs ¥1,860 per person. The chairlift is just one seat so we had to carry the kids on our laps.
I didn’t realize how far we had to walk once we got off the chairlift. I thought it was going to take us pretty much to the top. With how steep the mountain was, I am very grateful for how far it took us.
The hike the rest of the way up Tsurugi really wasn’t too bad. I enjoyed the pain. The majestic views on the way up made it all worth it.
When we did get to the top, the clouds had really started to spill over the mountain. There was quite a bit of wind, but at least it wasn’t raining! I had been so excited for the idyllic view that you see in the pictures of people hiking the narrow ridgeline but all we could see were clouds. All that means is that the next time we are in the area, we will do it again! We were able to have a little picnic at the top in the middle of the clouds.
At the top there is a shrine, a shop with raincoats and a place to eat some noodles. We didn’t stick around for too long because we were trying to get home before it started to really storm!
Plan your trip:
We really loved our trip to Shikoku, and are so excited to go back and see new things and even repeat some of the same things we did this trip. Check out Part One and Part Two of our 3 Days in Iya Valley, Shikoku!